Teenage change-maker says board life far from boring : Nelson Mail



Sixteen-year-old Lucy Summerville​ wasn’t sure being a member of a board would be all that interesting.

But the Motueka High School student decided to try it out, spurred by her involvement in a couple of groups at school.

“Time and time again I keep hearing ‘you’d have to take that to the board’ or ‘that’s something you should talk to the board about’.

“I suddenly went, I don’t even know how a board works. Why does everything get to go through them?

“Who’s on the board, why are they there?”

Summerville is starting to find out, having become the newest member on the board of conservation trust, Project Janszoon, which is restoring biodiversity in the Abel Tasman national park.

The chance arose through a youth governance scheme, organised by not-for-profit organisation Big Brothers Big Sisters, which Summerville was mentoring with.

Having already been a Youth Ambassador for Project Janszoon from Motueka High School for the past 18 months, the teenager was keen to learn “how it all came about”.

She also saw being a board member as a potential lesson in how to bring about change.

“To learn about governance, I thought that would probably be a really useful skill even if I wasn’t planning to be on a board ever again; at least knowing how one works and how you should approach them and what kind of things they have power over.”

From the one board meeting Summerville had under her belt so far, it was less about paperwork and more about action, she said

“It’s a lot of talking … [but] it was looking at how you could impact the park in the biggest way.”

With a tight timeframe on some of the trust’s activities until 2030, there was “no room for dragging the chain”, she said.

“It was ‘ok we’ve said we’re going to do that … who do we talk to, how do we get that done’.”


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